I sit at my computer, mouth agape, lost for words. Josh Smith, at the free throw line (0:30), clanks one badly off the back rim…but I look at the box score, and it reads “Smith Free Throw 1 of 2 (4 PTS)”. How could it be? The ball did not go through the hoop, therefore the free throw should not be credited. I watch the second attempt, to see if maybe that one is successful, but it is not.
Josh Smith only scored 24 points in this game, and went 2-of-9 from the free throw line. That is the reality that I witnessed. But the NBA’s reality is that he scored 25 points with three made free throws.
Now, with a nugget of information to guide me, I log on to the TOR anonymity network to probe the shadowy recesses of the internet’s crypts. There are groups there working to uncover the manipulation of sporting events worldwide. Finding a disturbing message board with archives chronicling various discrepancies in reported sports scores, I ask a question.
“Did anybody see that Josh Smith free throw last night?”
I get a response within a minute, from a poster calling himself “Weaponized_Truth”.
“Welcome, stranger. Yes, we have seen, and it is a boon for us, because scoring modifications like this occur so rarely in the public eye.”
Heart rate quickening, I type out my reply. “So they alter stats retroactively?”
Weaponized_Truth was right there with my answer. “Yes. Entire seasons worth of stats are falsified. Video of the games is altered to fit the reality that the NBA wishes to construct. But this time, somebody slipped up, and the free throw was misattributed at the moment it was shot.”
“What do we do now?”
There was no response for several hours. Weaponized_Truth was gone. I tried to tell myself that he was just busy with something else, but the unease in my chest told me the real truth.
I have long suspected the NBA of altering box scores to prop up a struggling player, but until now, have not had any proof of my claims. Stern apologists call me a conspiracy theorist, but I will show them the truth. It is my duty, as a fan, and as a human. I log on to the popular basketball discussion board RealGM and begin to craft my post.
There is a knock on my office door. Somebody has entered my house without my knowing. “DownToBuck, we know you’re in there, and we know what you know!” comes a gruff, shouted voice that could only belong to Adam Silver. “If you acquiesce peacefully, we’re prepared to buy your silence.”
“You’ll never take me alive!” I shout, hastily flipping the kill-switch on my computer, erasing all data contained therein. The clip of Josh Smith’s missed-but-made free throw, contained on a memory card the size of a pinkie nail, I slip in between my eyelid and eyeball. “Come get me, you thieving bastard!”
The door bursts open, revealing Adam Silver alone, holding a pair of nunchuks. “Prepare to die, mofo,” he says with a snarl, getting into his warrior stance. I unsheathe my katana, a Japanese weapon made of steel folded a thousand times, a blade of great power, and prepare to do battle.
My katana is normally used to maintain the peace. Now, it would disrupt that peace, and it would bring war.
We charge at each other, both screaming a battle cry. I thrust my sword towards his stomach, wanting to end it quickly, but he deflects the parry with his nunchuks. Then, with deadly quickness, he swings the weapon at my head. Ducking with the instincts of a cat, I roll to the side and swing the katana, grazing Adam’s leg through his business-casual slacks.
Yelling with renewed vigor, he does a front-flip through the air and lands behind me, smacking the back of my head with the nunchuks before I can react. My vision tunnels for a brief period of time and I sense him rearing back to apply another blow. Spinning around with sword held from my body, I knock the nunchuks from his hand.
On my carpeted floor, he holds out his hands in defeat. “DownToBuck, you have disarmed me. Let’s negotiate this like men.”
Standing above him, I shake my head. “You forwent that option when you entered my residence illegally. Now, the final moment is upon us, and the corruption of the NBA will end at the same instant as your life ends. Say your final words, slimeball.”
Adam looks up at me with tears in his eyes. “It was Stern. It was Stern all along. I’m sorry. I’m so,” he pauses as his voice hitches. “I’m so sorry.”
I drop my katana on the ground and extend a hand to pick him up off the floor. He receives my invitation. “Together, we can clean up the sport,” I say. “With your power, and my knowledge, we can usher forth a new era of professional basketball. Join me, friend.”
Collapsing into my embrace, Adam cries like a baby. “I just want the people to love us, to love basketball. That’s all I want, all I ever wanted.”
Patting his back, I don’t respond. No response is necessary. From this day on, we will right the wrongs, and fix what is broken. Today, and forever.